Earlier this month SNH hosted a stand at the All Energy Conference in Glasgow. All Energy is the UK’s largest renewable energy trade show and is an ideal forum through which we can promote good practice, meet with developers and demonstrate our support for low Carbon technologies. Having our own stand in the exhibition space this year gave everyone attending the event the opportunity to talk to us about energy and nature, and enabled us to deliver presentations to delegates on repowering and solar energy. George Lees, our Marine Research & Renewables Manager, tells us more.
Attendance at the annual All-Energy conference helps us to support good development – early engagement with development interests can help to achieve the right development in the right place. To date, our focus at this event has generally been on terrestrial renewables, such as onshore wind, hydro and solar schemes. This year we were keen also to promote our work on marine renewables: offshore wind, wave, and tidal power. Scotland has a vast resource of each energy source and is the world leader in wave and tidal power technologies, with far more turbines deployed and tested here than in any other country.
Climate change poses the biggest single threat to Scotland’s natural heritage, whether on land or at sea. So we are strong supporters of the marine renewables sector, as a means of helping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and helping in the delivery of the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy and Climate Change Plan.
But of course our seas are also home to a fantastic variety of birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates, many with international protection. It is essential therefore that wind, wave and tidal turbines are deployed in locations that are optimal for energy extraction and transfer but also compatible with the wildlife that lives here.
We are working closely with Marine Scotland and industry to identify preferred locations to develop marine renewables technologies (e.g. through the Scottish Government’s Sectoral Plans). We are also developing guidance to facilitate Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Habitat Regulation Appraisals (HRA), and we support research and monitoring to understand how wildlife responds to operational turbines and how impacts, if any, may be mitigated or avoided.
Through these means and others we hope to see a strong and sustainable growth in the marine renewables sector in Scotland, supporting our economy and generating clean electricity without harming the outstanding wildlife which attracts so many visitors to our country and makes Scotland’s seas so unique.
“The decisions and actions which we take now will shape the Scotland that future generations will live and work in, visit and enjoy. Our vision, set out in this document, strengthens our international reputation for sustainability – we are an ambitious country of outstanding natural beauty, determined to build on our reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse.”
Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Business, innovation and Energy). Foreword to Scottish Energy Strategy (Dec 2017).